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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 15 January 2015
What if you were stuck in your own house, prevented from leaving not only because of the terrible weather but due to agoraphobia, and a young girl has weaseled her way in and is now making wild accusations about your husband and won't leave?

What intrigued me the most about this novel was the perspective of the agoraphobic protagonist. Upon reading, I discovered it was actually told from both her and the girl's perspective, weaving a non-linear tale that challenges the reader to try and figure out what is truth and how both of them ended up in the situations they are now. A brilliantly written novel which will keep you hooked, and which will make you rethink the role of professional carers in society.
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I have a soft spot for psychological thrillers so I fell in love with Luana Lewis’s story the minute I read the synopsis. I had very high hopes for Don’t Stand So Close and luckily, it didn’t let me down. I loved it from start to finish and I’m not exaggerating when I say I read the first hundred pages in one sitting.

One of the reasons why it’s so difficult to put it down is that you have no idea who’s lying, who’s manipulating who and who the (real) victims are. Blue turns up at Stella’s house with an innocent enough story but once she’s inside, it turns out things are more complicated than they seem. Both of them are acting strange. Stella has been cocooned inside her home with symptoms of agoraphobia and anxiety, and been on heavy medication for years so she’s clearly not the most reliable character you’ll ever find. Blue says she knows Stella’s husband but she keeps changing her story all the time. You have no idea what’s going on and you want to find out who’s telling the truth so desperately that by the time you manage to put the book down for a few minutes, it’s midnight and you realize you forgot to have dinner. And lunch. It’s very addictive!

Another thing I particularly enjoyed about how the story is built up is the fact that it runs on three different levels. It all starts at Hilltop, Stella and Max’s Buckinghamshire home, in the present. The following chapter describes a scene between patient and therapist, and the next one takes place two years earlier when Stella was an ambitious and ever so effective employee at Max’s psychiatric clinic. I loved how Stella’s past (the scenes at the clinic), Blue’s past (the ones between patient and therapist) and their present (the scenes at Hilltop) intertwined – it’s such a clever way of telling the story and it makes it even more captivating, if that’s possible. We get a glimpse into both women’s past and their present together. It gives us an insight into what Stella was like before her life fell apart and, chapter by chapter, Lewis unveils the truth about Stella’s phobias and why her life took such a dramatic turn all these years ago.

Suspenseful, dark, chilling – Don’t Stand So Close is a twisted, brilliantly written story which is guaranteed to render you speechless. I absolutely loved it and I can’t wait to see what the author comes up with next!
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on 12 January 2016
They say truth is stranger than fiction, to me that is what this story reminds me of, it is crafted so cleverly. Reality bites for this book, less a scheming Lolita but a realistic victim from a frightening background but vulnerable and open to abuse from the wrong kind of person. Don't want to spoil the story but it is worthy and there is wisdom and a moral to the story you won't forget for a long time, excellent!
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Astonishing book! I read this unable to stop turning the pages in a few hours, it was so gripping and I was desperate to know how all the pieces fitted together.

One night Stella let a young woman into her home on a freezing bitter winters night, the opening of that door changed the course of her life forever.

The book is a taut psychological story that just keeps you wanting more. It cleverly (rather than confusingly like many books) switches timeframes between the not too distant past and the present, it builds up tension as each bit of the story starts to unravel. It's very clever and very good.

I just loved this book, an author I had never even heard of before. I didn't expect the book to contain even half if what it did. I think the ending could have been a little stronger but still I could not put this book down from page one. Excellent quick and intriguing read.
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As a debut novel, DON'T STAND SO CLOSE is quite successful. It follows a now familiar style of beginning in the present time but then taking the reader back to the events which were the catalyst for the action taking place. The remaining chapters then alternate between these timeframes, enabling us to learn more about the characters slowly. It is a technique which keeps the pace of the book at a good speed, as you are determined to keep on reading to learn more from the next section.

The story follows Stella; a young woman who has worked as a psychologist but now lives with her husband Max in a remote house. Stella hints at a trauma she suffered previously, which has made her seek seclusion from society. The opening section of the novel sees Stella at home on her own, when someone comes to her door. In the middle of a snow storm, the young girl is asking to be allowed in. Despite Stella's reservations, she allows the girl to enter her home. Once she does, her world changes yet again.

That is the basic synopsis of the plot. Like the structure of the book, the basic storyline also feels very familiar. However, despite this the novel is a good one. Lewis has created generally very believable characters. Although you may not necessarily take to the majority of them, there is something about their story which makes you want to know how it is going to end. Do not expect this to be an easy read though. Because of the issues that Lewis examines, there are sections of the novel which are very difficult to read. I think this goes to show just how well Lewis has done with her writing - the behaviours of the characters seem very plausible for them, the actions that they take and the thinking they demonstrate also come across as being very believable. Having worked with clients who have suffered trauma for many years, Lewis has also shown a great understanding in how trauma affects people and what they may have to do in order to survive it.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers with a dark story at its heart.
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on 12 December 2014
This is a FANTASTIC read. I don't usually read thrillers, but it was suggested it for our book club and it's always good to try something new. What a treat it was too, i loved it, i was completely drawn in, the characters and plot are so well developed i couldn't stop thinking about them for a good while after finishing this. I can't wait for the next one!
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on 29 March 2014
I found this book very compulsive reading. The psychologically damaged characters were well drawn. The events were disturbing and unpleasant but that is the nature of the psychological phenomenon. I was able to guess the ending but it did not stop me from staying up late to finish the novel. I look forward to reading more from this author.
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This is at times, a very disturbing and often unsettling story, but it is written so well, with a really authentic feel, that I found myself turning the pages so quickly in a desperate need to discover just what is the truth.

It's a cold and snowy night when a young girl knocked on Stella's door. Stella is loathe to let this stranger into her house, she has enough problems of her own, and can't bear the thought of having to deal with someone that she doesn't know. However, Stella does care about people and can't let this young girl sit outside in the freezing cold. She opens her door and lets her in. This is the start of the night that will change Stella's life forever, and the start of this gripping story.

The story is centred around the hours of that long night and the interactions between Stella and the young girl, who we discover is called Blue. Flashbacks to Stella's previous life and Blue's connection to that life are cleverly interwoven into the plot, which gives the reader a great insight to why Blue has arrived.

Despite this, I found that I just didn't know who or what I could believe. Don't Stand So Close is the ultimate in the unreliable narrator; not one, but two or three, if we include Stella's psychiatrist husband Max who plays a massive part in the story.

Luana Lewis has used her professional expertise to create a gripping psychological drama that deals with many issues including post-traumatic stress, agoraphobia and the delicate balance of the doctor/patient relationship.

This is an excellent debut novel, I was well and truly hooked from page one, right up to the undeniably shocking ending.
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on 27 July 2014

The snow is falling heavy and it is freezing cold outside.

A young girl knocks on the door claming she used to live in Hilltop house and can she come inside?.

Stella is all alone in Hilltop house. She was a psychologist that suffered a traumatic experience while working in her clinic and has not been out of her house for three years and now severely suffers from agoraphobic.

Stella lets the girl into her home. The girl tells Stella some terrible lies and keeps changing her story of lies. Now Stella is unsure what to believe from this girl. Stella wants to know the real reason why this girl has turned up on her doorstep.

The scene of events that take place in Stella's house are beginning to turn very ugly with the girl still inside Stella and her husband's house.

Readers will not be able to close this novel until the truth has been discovered as to why this girl with the frightened big blue eyes turned up at Stella and her husband's house.

The reason I was drawn to to the book Dont Stand So Close was the frighening creepy looking girl woih the big blue eyes on front of the cover and the outline of this creepy story.

Luana Lewis has created a well crafted story that is very tense and deeply unsettling. This one novel not to be missed reading.
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on 27 May 2014
Really enjoyed it couldn,t wait to turn the page a good and interesting read, identified with all the characters
wanted it to go on , intriguing.
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